Best Carving Knives

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

58 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
300 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best carving knives

Last Updated November 2019

A carving knife may not be an everyday kitchen staple, but when the time comes, you really need yours to work. No one wants to delay Thanksgiving dinner because of a dull, uncooperative knife.

Carving knives have slender blades and tapered tips that make them ideal for slicing large pieces of meat. They’re essential for serving turkey, ham, roast, chicken, and other large meat items.

Some people may try to use a chef’s knife in a pinch, but the thin blade of a carving knife is better for slicing thin pieces of meat. And, unlike a chef’s knife, a carving knife has a pointed tip to navigate and maneuver joints and bones.

A quality carving knife can be expensive, but if you’re investing in a pricey piece of meat, you’ll want to prepare it well so you get the most out of your dining experience.

Types

Standard vs. electric carving knives

Carving knives come in two main styles: standard knives, which cut using your own strength, and electric knives, which are powered by electricity.

There are some cases in which an electric knife is preferable. Those who suffer from arthritis or nerve pain probably don’t want to have to muster the strength to carve an entire bird by hand — and then spend the rest of the day in pain. Generally speaking, though, many people prefer a standard carving knife when it comes to texture and presentation. A hand-guided blade can cut slices more precisely and uniformly, whereas an electric blade is more prone to sawing or hacking the meat apart.

Stamped vs. forged carving knives

If you opt for a manual carving knife, you’ll need to decide whether you want a stamped or forged blade. Manufacturers that stamp knife blades essentially press knife-shaped cookie cutters into a long sheet of metal. Stamped blades are often less costly than forged blades, although many are made of the same high-quality, anti-corrosive steel as forged blades. However, stamping cannot duplicate the strength of a forged blade.

Forged blades are made of molten steel that’s poured into a cast mold. The heat increases the forged blade’s strength and sharpness over that of a stamped blade. This is why forged blades usually have more tensile strength (they can bend without breaking) than stamped blades.

Sharp and strong

Aptly named, this high carbon German steel knife is ready for anything. Its full tang is triple-riveted for an amazingly precise cut. Hand sharpened and polished, the blade is engineered for the optimal mix of sharpness and flexibility, and it comes with a variety of quality tools to help you keep the blade in shape.

Features

Blade length

Most carving knives measure between eight and 14 inches long. Generally, chefs say you should use a blade that’s at least as long as the item you plan to cut. This lets you slice without sawing, which can tear the meat and affect its texture and moisture.

A blade that’s too long, however, puts you at risk for accidents. If you will mostly be cutting smaller items like roast and chicken, opt for a shorter knife. If you will be using your knife mostly for larger items like turkey, brisket, and ham, choose a longer knife.

Knife tang

A knife’s tang is the metal part that extends below the blade into the handle. In a partial-tang knife, the metal of the blade simply inserts into the handle. These knives are cheaper and more prone to breaking under pressure.

In a full-tang knife, the metal extends all the way to the bottom of the knife. This provides more leverage and makes the blade less likely to snap. Some full-tang knives allow the metal to show along the sides of the handle. Others have a hidden tang that is encased completely within the handle. Whether hidden or not, many of the best carving knives have a full tang.

Knife handle

A knife is useless without a good handle. Knife handles can be made of plastic, polymer, wood, steel, or composite formulas. Chefs differ on their favorite handle materials, but a good handle should never be slippery; rubber or another form of texturing can help keep the knife from slipping in the hand. A pronounced finger guard can help protect against accidents.

EXPERT TIP

Forged blades are more expensive than stamped blades, but with proper care, they can also last longer.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Trying to decide between carbon and stainless steel? Carbon steel blades retain their sharpness longer than stainless steel blades, and they’re often easier to sharpen.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Many quality carving knives have shallow dimples, or “grantons,” along the blade. The grantons reduce resistance while cutting, so the blade won’t get caught and compromise the meat’s texture.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Knife tangs should be riveted into the handle rather than glued. Most high-quality knives have handles that are triple-riveted.


Staff  | BestReviews

Carving knife prices

Inexpensive carving knives usually cost between $20 and $30. Knives at this price usually have stamped blades made of stainless steel. Most have partial tangs that are glued into the handle.

If you spend a bit more, between $30 and $50, you can find carving knives with blades of stainless steel or carbon steel. In this price range, knives should have a full tang with riveted handles.

Top-shelf carving knives start around $50, but the upper end of the range can be much higher. Knives that cost this much usually have a blade and tang forged from a single piece of carbon steel, as well as a riveted handle with ergonomic grips. Some may have undergone special treatments to make the blade even stronger.

A winning budget cutter

The perfect size for slicing roast, pork loin, and brisket, this well-balanced knife gives you the precision of a mid-grade competitor. Its durable, full-tang construction makes it a solid pick for a knife you’ll use about once a month. For more frequent use, though, look for something a little higher in quality.

Tips

  • A blade with little flex in it is best for carving boneless meat. When carving bone-in meat, however, it’s better to use a carving knife with a more flexible blade.

  • Never put a carving knife in the dishwasher. Always wash it by hand with hot, soapy water, and dry it immediately.

  • If you have a full-tang knife, make sure you fully dry the handle. Failing to do so could make it vulnerable to corrosion.

Other products we considered

Narrowing down our top picks wasn’t easy, especially given the wide range of carving knives on the market. Here are some picks that narrowly missed our shortlist. If you want to invest in carving a knife for frequent use, take a look at the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional S Carving Knife. The carbon steel blade is ice-hardened to retain sharpness, improve its strength, and maximize its no-stain formula. The cost is a bit high, but you are getting what you pay for. At the other end of the price spectrum, Ergo Chef offers a carving and slicing knife that gets high marks for its sharpness, balance, and strength. The high carbon stainless steel blade neatly slices meats and cakes alike thanks to its deep grantons. Users love its grippy ergonomic handle.

When carving a piece of meat, try to keep the slices between a quarter inch and a half inch thick. This thickness keeps pieces tender and manageable while providing the best flavor.

FAQ

Q. How often should I sharpen a carving knife?

A. Some experts recommend sharpening carving knives after each use. This definitely holds true after you’ve carved an entire turkey. If you’re not sure whether your knife is dull, try testing it on a tomato. If you can cut the fruit without squashing it, your blade is fine. If the tomato squirts, it’s time to sharpen the blade.

Q. What should I use to sharpen my knife blade?

A. There are many items on the market for sharpening: honers, manual sharpeners, electric sharpeners, and whetstones. In reality, honers — the metal rods that come with many knives — guide your blade back into its original alignment rather than sharpening the blade. True sharpening requires a knife sharpener. Manual sharpeners take more time and effort but remove less metal than electric sharpeners. They can’t restore heavily damaged blades like an electric sharpener can. Whetstones, also known as sharpening stones, are not a amateur tool and are best used by those with experience.

Q. What’s the best size of carving knife to buy?

A. When you picture a scenario in which you need a carving knife, you might imagine a table set with a monster Thanksgiving turkey that feeds 25 guests. But in reality, most of the meats you’ll be carving will likely be much smaller than that. It can be tempting to take the “one-and-done” route and buy an oversized knife, but a moderately sized knife may be a better choice. A blade that’s too long puts you at risk for accidents. Most chefs recommend knives in the nine- to twelve-inch range because they’re the most versatile.

The team that worked on this review
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